Commercial buildings not allowed in a residential zone

Commercial buildings are not allowed in a residential zone in Hayes Township. The Laws’ residence, where they would like to build an attached dining and event facility capable of seating 350 people around tables (700 standing), for their company employees with commercial kitchen, public restrooms, elevator, fireplace, and other event amenities, is not residential in any sense, and is for public assembly.

The Hayes Township Zoning Map below shows the zoning as Low-Density R-1 residential. In the R-1 zone, on pages 52 and 53 of the Hayes Township Zoning Ordinance, you’ll see dining and event facilities are not permitted uses nor uses permissible with a special use permit.

Spot Zoning versus Ultra Vires Action

It is ultra vires (beyond the power) for Hayes Township’s Zoning Administrator to allow such a use in a residential zone. Spot zoning would involve rezoning, (which requires an application for rezoning and a public hearing). That’s not what’s going on here. Ron Van Zee (who is both Hayes Township Supervisor and Zoning Administrator) determined in November, 2021 in a sworn affidavit in circuit court, that the proposed “boathouse” and dining and event facility is “part of the house” and permissible in a residential zone. 

LuAnne Kozma wrote and spoke to the Hayes Township Board of Trustees on January 10, 2022 pleading with the Board of Trustees to inform Zoning Administrator Van Zee not put the Township legally at risk for such a reckless and illegal decision.

Van Zee makes the erroneous claim that if the Laws aren’t charging their employees for use of a corporate resort, it’s not commercial, and falsely equates “private” use with residential use.  In zoning, any use that is not residential is either commercial, industrial, etc.   From the article “Dredging in Paradise” in Northern Express

To the accusation that the Laws’ boathouse property shouldn’t have been approved in the first place because it constitutes a commercial      use, Van Zee argues that there’s a difference between a large private property where the owner wants to host a large number of guests and a commercial event center that could be rented for weddings or other functions.”

“It’s all private,” Van Zee says of the Laws’ plans for their property. “They do have a lot of people from their corporation that come up, and that’s why they built three lodges. But it’s just a private retreat area. They don’t charge for anything, and they are not open to the public. It’s just a larger scale of private use than what their neighbors might have. And as long as [the use of the property] meets the ordinance requirements, there’s not a lot we can do it. If it did actually become commercial—like if the Laws’ wanted to make a hotel, or a bed and breakfast, or something like that, and they started charging people to be there—obviously, they would then have to come back before planning commission to do that.”